Jan 22, 201302:17 PMThe Telegraph

The Premier Blog of the West

For The Home On The Range

Jan 22, 2013 - 02:17 PM
For The Home On The Range

Wall to wall and floor to ceiling, these companies can give your home that upscale (or rustic) Western feel.

Starry, Starry Rags

Home furnishings designer Mike Ragan has come a long way from the set of cowboy pillows he made using his grandmother’s Singer sewing machine in 1990. The Rags designer now makes everything a homeowner or decorator could want when it comes to Western chic. His textiles are known for their unique patterns, especially his hair-on-hide rugs, which bring the natural textures and colors of the outdoors inside in contemporary designs like Stars Light (above). Rugs such as this have graced the floors of high-end homes and upscale hotels alike, including the Four Seasons Resort in Vail, Colorado. And, at times, Ragan’s one-of-a-kind works have even been hung on walls to keep the artistic textiles from being walked on. But like the West, Rags is about more than just leather. “You can’t have leather covering everything,” says Ragan, who employs the aforementioned hair on hide, as well as shearling and combinations of materials, to create a multi-textural take on the West in hues as diverse as tempered mountain grays and cool night-on-the-range blues. 323.346.0690, www.usarags.com; www.mikeraganhome.com.  — José R. Ralat

Patient Exposures

Art photographer Jeff Struthers lassos light like a cowboy ropes cattle: Both employ patience before capturing their targets. “I waited more than a year for the perfect sky to photograph an old car in a ravine,” says Struthers. “The colorful sky in that image only lasted moments. I watched weather reports. ... If the desired combination of clouds, weather, and sunlight doesn’t materialize at the right time of day, I just keep trying.” The waiting game has paid off for the photographer, who now owns his own gallery in Elizabeth, Colorado. Purchasing the restored Denver & New Orleans Railroad Section House, Struthers transformed the space into the D&NO Art Gallery, where he displays his diverse collection of works, all emphasizing meticulous attention to light. Also capturing visually stimulating images to be featured at the prestigious Teal Art Gallery in nearby Breckinridge, Struthers is currently working on a book of photos that capture decades-old ranch shops and their cluttered interiors. 303.646.4116, www.jeffstruthersphotography.com.  — José R. Ralat

Buffalo Gold

“It began from being an attorney and looking for tax exemptions for agricultural pursuits,” says Cecil Miskin, founder of Buffalo Gold Premium Fibers. “I wanted to buy buffalo, and what started as a hobby became a passion.”

After nearly a decade of raising his herd in Texas, the lawyer turned rancher was inspired by a local artisan to take on yet another buffalo venture. He began collecting bison fibers from his pasture for the artist to weave into thermal winter accessories, and Buffalo Gold Premium Fibers was born. “Bison down creates air pockets that insulate the bison and keep them alive,” Miskin explains. “Our buffalo yarn has those same air pockets that hold body heat, so it keeps you warmer in cold weather.”

Eventually Miskin began seeking out additional weavers, growing the line of “herd wear” to include everything from hats and scarves to saddle blankets and rugs, all hand-woven from buffalo yarn. Then it came time to set up shop. When choosing a location for a storefront, he fittingly decided on Goodnight, Texas, founded in 1887 by Charles Goodnight, who helped preserve American bison from being hunted to extinction. And even though it’s considered a ghost town, “the tourist traffic is huge,” the store owner says. “People are stopping by day and night.”

Why has it become such a hit attraction? Buffalo Gold is more than just a store — it’s part museum. In addition to offering a wide array of artwork, clothing, and bison leather and horn accessories, the shop also displays historical items, from coins, currency, and stamps depicting the American bison to original editions of books about bison by Theodore Roosevelt.

Not to be outdone, the buffalo clan on site claims direct descendants of Goodnight’s herd. 915.247.6601, www.buffalogold.net.  — David Hofstede

Post and Beam

The barn has always been a structure of great importance on the homestead, serving as a place to house livestock and grain, and it has become beloved as a symbol of the American West. Which is why, while modern-day barns are just as likely to store tractors and vehicles as cattle and harvested crops, owners often  want to keep designs traditional in tribute to the region’s heritage.

Focusing on historic authenticity, Sand Creek Post & Beam uses the same types of wood used to build barns for centuries, and the same post-and-beam construction to handcraft load-bearing timber frames, which offer strength and rustic elegance. Not only each frame, but also the windows, doors, and cupolas are all handcrafted at Sand Creek’s workshop in Wayne, Nebraska, before being sent to your home, just like the barn kit companies of the early 1900s.

If you would rather have your barn erected by the experts than try to raise it yourself, Sand Creek also has crews across the country to get the job done right. 888.489.1680, www.sandcreekpostandbeam.com.  — Holly Henderson

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